By Spencer Ripchik
The NFL season is almost here, and this season is filled with storylines.
There’s no Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers is in New York and running backs are making nothing. This season should be interesting with all those factors plus a couple of more.
Here are some Week 1 game picks for the 2023 season.
Detriot Lions at Kansas City Chiefs
The Detroit Lions could be the best team in the NFC North with an improved defense and some more offensive weapons. The Lions were just shy of making the playoffs last year and probably will make it in 2023.
However, Detroit opens its season against the defending Super Bowl Champions, and the best quarterback in the league and could be the all-time best.
This one is going to be a shootout, but you can’t bet against Patrick Mahomes.
Winner: Kansas City
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
Two pretty young teams with young quarterbacks. The Falcons have Desmond Ridder at the helm, who didn’t take over until the end of the season. Carolina has the first overall pick Bryce Young behind center. With both quarterbacks being young, expect a lot of turnovers.
Atlanta is a bit older and added a bunch of players in the offseason in running back Bijan Robinson, safety Jessie Bates III and defensive end Calais Campbell on the defensive side of the ball.
Both teams are young, but the Panthers are younger.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Are the Cleveland Browns contenders to win the tough AFC North? Sure, but one of the teams they have to beat is their opponent in Week 1, the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals are potentially the third-best team in the whole league because of their offense consisting of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. The defense is also solid.
All around the Bengals are the better team and in a close one get the win on the road.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
After running back Jonathan Taylor requested a trade, the Colts were sent into a tailspin. This franchise is rebuilding, and Indianapolis is hoping it has its guy in first-round pick Anthony Richardson.
A team that’s not rebuilding is the Jaguars. The Jaguars won a playoff game last year and are only getting better. Trevor Lawrence made a big leap from Year 1 to Year 2, and he just got a WR1 Calvin Ridley, who was one of the best receivers in the league before his injury and then his suspension.
This one will be close too, but Jacksonville has it.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
The Buccaneers are in their first season without the G.O.A.T. Tom Brady, and now, Baker Mayfield is behind center, which is a clear downgrade. Mayfield isn’t terrible, but not Brady.
The Minnesota Vikings have added more weapons for Kirk Cousins and that’s on top of the best receiver in the league Justin Jefferson.
The Vikings’ defense has declined, but it’s enough to stop Tampa Bay’s offense, which wasn’t that great when Brady was there.
Cousins usually plays well in the 1 p.m. slot, so it’s the Vikings in this one.
Tennesee Titans at New Orleans Saints
This game is a toss-up. Both teams aren’t great but have some good things going for them.
The New Orleans Saints look like the better squad with new quarterback Derek Carr, but the Titans have some firepower on offense.
The Saints have a strong defensive line, but Derrick Henry is Derrick Henry and a freight train.
The Titans pick up the win on the road.
San Fransico 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers
This game could be an interesting one. The 49ers could be without Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa for this game, which is a big blow to that defense.
The Steelers are an interesting bunch with some firepower on defense and are in Year 2 with quarterback Kenny Pickett. Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season but this might be the first one because of how good the AFC North could be.
If this game was in San Fransico, it’s not close, but the Steelers could put up a fight at home.
This is the upset of the week because of how good a coach Tomlin is, and the game is at home.
*Upset* Winner: Pittsburgh
Arizona Cardinals at Washington Commanders
Both of these teams aren’t the greatest. Arizona will be without Kyler Murray, and with some of their offsesason transactions, it looks like the Cardinals have already given up on the season.
The Commanders have a young squad with Sam Howell at the helm and could have a shot at the playoff.
Any team that plays the Cardinals in the first couple of weeks gets a free win.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
Houston is another team in the NFL that is rebuilding around a young core in quarterback C.J. Stroud and pass rusher Will Anderson.
The Ravens aren’t rebuilding. Quarterback Lamar Jackson just got paid and has a bunch of new weapons.
The Ravens get off to a good start and win at home.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Green Bay could be the biggest question mark in the NFL. The Packers lost Aaron Rodgers but have had Jordan Love in the back pocket for a couple of years now.
The Packers’ defense is solid with one of the best cornerbacks in the game Jaire Alexander.
Chicago is on the cusp of a playoff appearance, but not there yet. Justin Fields just added D.J. Moore to his arsenal, so he should improve from Year 2 to Year 3.
This game is another tossup, but there is more known about the Bears.
Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos
“Broncos country, let’s ride” was nothing but bad last year. Russell Wilson had one of his worst NFL seasons, but now the Broncos have Sean Payton as their head coach. That’s gonna make a little difference.
The Broncos defense is pretty decent and has Pat Surtain, arguably the best corner in the league.
Las Vegas could be good but also could be bad because who knows how Jimmy Garoppolo does on his new team.
Denver is at home, so it takes the edge in another close one.
Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots
The Eagles have the best roster in the NFL on paper. Jalen Hurts had a great season last year, and the Philadelphia defense is loaded and just stocked up with defensive rookies from the two-time National Champions Georgia Bulldogs.
The Patriots do have Bill Belichick, one of the best coaches, but their roster doesn’t compare to the Eagles’ roster.
Philadelphia is a Super Bowl favorite this year, so the Eagles win this one.
Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers
This game is going to be an absolute shootout. Two offenses that are loaded with weapons.
The Chargers have Justin Herbert on a new massive contract and just added rookie receiver Quentin Johnston. Los Angeles also has one of the best pass rushers in Joey Bosa, too.
Miami has maybe the best receiver duo in the league in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. However, can Tua Tagovailoa stay healthy? Who knows.
The Dolphins loaded up on defense. They added linebacker David Long and safety DeShon Elliott and they also added corner Jalen Ramsey, but he’s not going to play.
The Chargers win this one because it’s in Los Angeles.
Winner: Los Angeles
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
After a poor season last year because of multiple injuries, the Rams are back in full force after their Super Bowl win in 2022.
The Rams have Cooper Kupp back and Matthew Stafford, who are two of the biggest components of the squad, but Kupp is still a bit banged up, so he might not play.
The Seahawks are coming off a playoff appearance even with Russell Wilson not there. Geno Smith won Comeback Player of the Year and looked the best he’s ever been.
Seattle is home to the 12th man and will be still a tough place to play for a still little banged-up Rams squad.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
The New York Giants went from the outhouse to the penthouse last year in Year 1 under Brian Daboll.
The Giants added a pair of rookies at corner and acquired tight end Darren Waller and defensive player Isaiah Simmons, who can do it all.
The Cowboys gave Dak Prescott another weapon in Brandin Cooks and have a new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
The Cowboys defense also added Stephon Gilmore to boost an already solid defense.
This should be an interesting one on Sunday night, but Dallas has a better roster overall.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
The Aaron Rodgers era is upon us in New York and his first game is no easy task.
The Buffalo Bills had some problems toward the end of the season with quarterback Josh Allen and their No. 1 receiver Stefon Diggs, but it seems like that’s settled now.
Rodgers has a lot of familiar faces on his offense and potentially a top 5 receiver Garrett Wilson to throw to and a strong defense behind him.
However, the Bills will play spoiler in Rodgers’ first game out in a close one on Monday night.
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